On September 28th, a webinar was held regarding LA’s economic situation in the COVID-19 environment by Maria Salinas, President of the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by the Business & Commerce Committee. The moderator was Yuko Kaifu, President of Japan House.


Maria Salinas
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber Of Commerce

Ms. Salinasook leadership of the 130-year-old LA Area Chamber of Commerce in August 2018. She has brought on changes to the organization’s activities with the goal of realizing an economy that provides equal opportunities to all.

Toward Economic Progress

Ms. Kaifu began the webinar by describing the LA Area Chamber of Commerce led by President Salinas as “an organization of 1,400 companies operating in the Los Angeles area” and that “Maria has been appointed as the first woman and Latina to lead the Chamber.”

Next, President Salinas commented on the regional characteristics of the Chamber by , saying, “This Chamber of Commerce covers five counties, but when viewed as a country, its economic scale is the 14th largest compared to other countries. The companies that conduct economic activities in the region are diverse in all aspects, such as industry and background, and it can be said that it is a microcosm of the world.” On the other hand, she expressed concern that “rising housing costs, the increase in the homeless population, and the need to develop public transportation remain as challenges, and the situation is worsening due to the effects of Coronavirus.”

Ms. Kaifu then asked questions regarding business reopening in the LA area. President Salinas responded, “In California, Governor Newsom is the task force leader, and has been devising countermeasures by region and industry. Up until Memorial Day, we had been on track towards reopening, but then came the protests (against racism). Despite a retreat there, LA appears to be ready to move onto the next stage. While giving due consideration to safety, the economy must move forward.” Furthermore, she predicted that “once we overcome the Coronavirus, the industry that will attract attention is clean energy. Both the governor and mayor recognize that climate change is an important issue in California, and efforts to promote environmental sustainability will accelerate. As announced by the governor, it has been decided that new sales of gasoline-fueled vehicles will be suspended in 2035, and the automobile industry will shift in that direction. Construction of charging stations will also be urgent. How to transform the environment over the next 10 years is a vital issue.”

To Ms. Kaifu’s question of “Japanese companies are invested heavily in Southern California and thus are very worried about how our operations will be affected as the Coronavirus draws out. What are your thoughts?” President Salinas advised, “We need to keep communicating with each other and not miss the trends and opportunities in which the new economy is heading. The keywords here are remote work-related technology and clean energy” and sent cheers to JBA.